Volkswagen has ambitious growth plans for the future, and one of the most important models for boosting the company’s sales in the U.S. is the long-rumored three-row midsize SUV based on the CrossBlue Concept from last year’s Detroit auto show. The rumors are now over, as Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn officially confirmed that this SUV for the U.S. is “on its way” for a launch date of 2016 at a dinner ahead of the 2014 Detroit auto show.
This SUV, which does not have a name as of yet, will compete with successful crossovers like the Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder. This model could provide a big boost for Volkswagen sales if it can make inroads in this popular segment. Winterkorn reiterated the plan to sell one million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the U.S. by 2018, an ambitious goal but not an impossible one considering that the company sold 600,000 cars in 2013, nearly doubling its U.S. sales numbers from a few years ago.
Volkswagen has tried to enter the seven-passenger market before, with the Routan minivan, but the rebadged Chrysler Town & Country was never a sales success, and was phased out last year. Adding a seven-seat crossover would clearly help Volkswagen boost sales as the segment is extremely popular: To cite just a few examples, last year the Nissan Pathfinder recorded 88,632 sales, Ford delivered 178,311 Explorers, and General Motors’ Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Buick Enclave triplets cumulatively tallied 246,794 sales in 2013.
We anticipate that the Volkswagen SUV will be produced at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant that currently produces the Volkswagen Passat midsize sedan. This seven-seat Volkswagen should look much like the CrossBlue concept, and may be built on either the Passat’s platform or Volkswagen’s new modular MQB platform that underpins the new Volkswagen Golf. This Golf will be the next new Volkswagen model to launch in the U.S., as it started production this week at its new North American production location in Mexico and will go on sale this summer.
Keep an eye out for more news on the upcoming Volkswagen crossover to come.